Football UK

Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino were right all along about Marcelo Bielsa


Before Leeds were promoted to the Premier League, Marcelo Bielsa’s record only stood up because managers such as Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino told us it did.

I always felt his name ought to have had an asterisk by it whenever I saw him listed among the game’s great managers.

He’d won three half-seasons in Argentina — two with Newell’s Old Boys and one with Velez Sarsfield in his younger days when he was making his name.

But I could probably rattle off 200 lower-league and non-League managers capable of pulling that off in just a few minutes if I put my mind to it.

Bielsa had certainly never won anything of any note in Europe despite being with five clubs in Spain, Italy and France, he was just someone who’d influenced the world’s best managers.

Bielsa has lived up to the reputation he arrived in England with

I’d argue that doesn’t make you a great manager yourself, more a great teacher, so I really couldn’t see any tangible evidence to put him in that ‘best of the best ever’ category.

It was just the fact Guardiola and so many Latin American managers said they were disciples that his name was stratospheric.

Similarly to when Zinedine Zidane said Paul Scholes was the best player in the world, or when Pele said George Best was the greatest player of all time.

“Well, if he says it’s true then it must be.”

Looking purely at his record, though, I remember questioning how Bielsa would get on in England when he arrived at Leeds in 2018.

Leeds topped last season’s Championship table

My feeling was that he’d either be exceptional or excrement, and two years in, he’s veering towards the former.

The fact that the Argentine has had two full seasons in the Championship to realise the expectations at a club like Leeds will have done him no harm.

But I do like the way he has settled himself in as a man of the people, taking a one-bedroom flat and walking to work like so many others in the area.

The big question now, of course, is what represents success for Bielsa in the Premier League with Leeds?

Well, if he can lead them to a top-10 finish like Chris Wilder did with Sheffield United last season, then it would be a job well done and would rubber-stamp all the plaudits he got before coming to this country.

Where will Leeds finish next season? Have your say here.

Bielsa’s management ended years of hurt for Whites fans

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I actually found things easier in the Premier League than I did in the Championship after we were promoted with Nottingham Forest and Leeds will probably find it the same.

You get more rest between matches, there’re more time to sit down and analyse things tactically, and I have to say I’m looking forward to seeing how record signing Rodrigo does.

Strikers win matches, it’s as simple as that, and none of the rest of it really matters if you can’t put the ball in the net.

I want to see Rodrgio being aggressive and winning the ball back high up the pitch.

I want to see him served with crosses and little through-balls, and I want to see him scoring goals when it really counts.

By that, I mean in January, February and March, because there will be plenty of strikers who start the season well.

But if you can do it in the mid-winter into early spring then it can make all the difference.

If Rodrigo can get eight to 10 goals in that period then Leeds will take vital points.

He has a big price-tag, he has been at a big club already in Valencia and now he needs to deliver in the Premier League.

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